Monday, January 16, 2017

Voting By Postcard Opened Today for 2017 Michigan Newspaper Grant Program Five Newspapers Compete to Win

Upton House theme postcard
by Sterling Heights Public Library
This is just to remind everyone that voting for the 2017 Michigan Newspaper Grant Program winning newspaper using Michigan-themed postcards opened as of today, January 16, 2017.

Voting using postcards runs from January 16 to 28. Each postcard counts as 10 votes and you can vote as many times as you would like.

For more details on the grant program and how to vote using postcards or even Twitter, see our original post for digitizing The Utica Sentinel which is one of the five finalists.

Postcard for #DigUtica

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Thank You One and All for Attending MCGG Open House at MCPL on Jan. 13

Note: Spelling correction has been made. This post was originally posted, Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 10:57 a.m.

Just WOW.
2017 MCGG Open House:
Bill Krul talks about Polish Research

The turnout for our MCGG Open House on Friday, January 13, was amazing.

Thank You to the volunteers and Macomb County Genealogy Group members who helped our new attendees and fellow MCGG members with their genealogical and sometimes technical questions.

Thank You to the new attendees for attending our Open House. We hope you will return to continue your research, talk to our volunteers for help/advice, and attend one of our Friday or Wednesday meetings.

We were so busy that we managed to only take two photos of this year's Open House exactly what happened at last year's Open House. Thanks Robert McGarry for taking them this year.

2017 MCGG Open House:
Brenda Miller talks to a group
of attendees just starting their genealogy.
And, Thank You to the Mount Clemens Public Library for your hospitality allowing us to show off your fabulous Local History and Genealogy collection and for being one of the best libraries.

We hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Open House Follow Up: Options to Keep Track of Your Genealogy Discoveries

One question was heard quite a bit at the recent MCGG Open House. What can I use to keep track of all of this?

For anyone that does not use a computer, the answer is the various genealogy forms in the MCGG Beginner's Packet.

For anyone with computer access, the answer to that is an online genealogy tree and/or a genealogy software/program for your computer. Several options exist and which one to use depends on how you work and think, and how you feel about sharing/privacy.

We suggest investigating your options. If a program looks like a possibility for you and it has a free option then try the free version out. If you decide you like it, then decide if the pay version is worthwhile for you or not. Ask a variety of our MCGG members what they use when you attend one of our meetings. If they have their laptop with them, they might even demonstrate the program they've chosen to use.

So what is out there for keeping track of things?

Online trees come in two forms.
  • Personal trees which you control (add/delete/edit) often have privacy settings that can be set to public (anyone can see it) or private (only you or those you invite can see it) depending on how you feel about sharing/privacy. Online trees at websites like, FindMyPast websites, and are examples of this.
  • Collaborative trees which are an online shared tree meaning everyone works on the same tree that allows anyone to add/delete/edit any person. Online trees at and are examples of this.

Most websites with online trees have some privacy controls that keep information on living persons private. Generally online trees have fewer charting and reporting options than those in genealogy software. Additionally there are sometimes fewer events/fact fields to chose from and fewer source citing options. The advantage is that you often can access an online tree from a variety of devices not just a specific device. The disadvantage is that you have to have internet access to access an online tree.

Desktop genealogy software is made by a variety of software publishers.

Generally desktop genealogy software has more charting and reporting options than online trees. There is often more event/fact fields to use and more source citing options. By having your tree on your computer you control access, adds, deletes, and changes to the information in it. Another advantage is that you can see and work on your tree without the internet if needed.

Almost all genealogy software has a website devoted to providing information about the program, sales and customer service. Take a look at them to learn of each program's features and how the program's interface looks/works. Some companies have overview, feature and how-to videos on their websites or a YouTube channel and these are good ways to get the feel of how a program works.

Most genealogy software is distributed by online download but some offer the option to purchase the software on a CD or USB drive for an extra fee. Also, printed software manual books are usually an option for a fee though most are e-books/PDF files now. Remember, genealogy software (downloaded or on a physical device) is a one-time purchase not a subscription with annual costs. Only when a major update to a program (i.e. version 7 to version 8) is released by a software company is there an additional update cost. Minor updates (i.e. version 7.2 to version 7.4) to a program are usually free. And always remember to make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements to run the software you are considering purchasing.

Here are some of the current desktop genealogy software that we have talked about in other posts back (1, 2, 3, 4) at the end of 2015 when genealogy software choices were the hot topic of the day due to announced changes to come at the website. The "loud" voices of genealogists were heard and a popular product was saved. We have updated this information where needed (like new version released since then) and added the starting cost of each program. Generally a download of a program costs less than a program on CD or USB drive which has to be physically delivered.

Family Tree Maker
Family Tree Maker is not dead in case you had not heard. It is now a product of The Software MacKiev Company. There is a Windows version Family Tree Maker 2014.1 and a Mac version Family Tree Maker 3.1 of the program which costs $69.95 for one computer license. If you want the program on a CD or USB drive there is an extra charge. If you have an earlier version of Family Tree Maker, you can get an upgrade to the new versions for just $39.95 by signing up for the FTM mailing list.

Currently, Family Tree Maker is still the only genealogy program that syncs with the online trees, and the only program that lets you merge records by searching from within the program. It also works with the Ancestry Hints (Shaky Leaves) feature. It has a variety of charts and reports and has an interactive location map. MacKiev has a Frequently Asked Questions page regarding and support pages for Family Tree Maker.

MacKiev has said it is working on updating Family Tree Maker to continue the TreeSync, search/merge and hints features when makes its planned website update.

A review of Family Tree Maker 2014 can be found at TamuraJones. One FTM user has a whole blog devoted to using and helping others use Family Tree Maker so there are many screen captures to get an idea of how the program looks. Another third-party article talks about the latest MacKiev FTM update and how to get it can be found here.

Legacy Family Tree
Legacy Family Tree 8.0
Legacy Family Tree 8.0 is the product of Millennia company, which also produces the Legacy Family Webinars. Legacy is a currently still a Windows only program that comes in a free Standard version and a pay (starting at $29.95 for a download) Deluxe version. Legacy is working on releasing version 9.0 of its software. And we understand a Mac version might be in the works too.

The Standard version is a full-feature program that has no limitations on how many individuals can be entered. Purchasing the Deluxe version unlocks almost one hundred advanced features, like mapping, a Source Writer, interview reports, and powerful search capabilities for within your tree file.

There is a features overview and both a webpage tour (click on any screen image to enlarge it) and a video tour of the program. Also, at Legacy Family Webinars there are additional free videos on various Legacy features.

Legacy has put together a How to Import from Family Tree Maker page which includes a video. There is also a comparison guide to other programs but it is a little out of date because the comparison is to older versions of its competitors rather than up-to-date versions.

Reviews of the program can be found at Family Tree Magazine, Budding Genealogist, Dick Eastman's blog, The Legal Genealogist, and elsewhere.

Legacy has indicated it is working on updating Legacy Family Tree to add the Ancestry Sync feature when makes its planned website update.

RootsMagic 7
RootsMagic has both a free version, RootsMagic Essentials, and a pay ($29.95) version, RootsMagic 7, of its product. The company also has a Mac version of the RootsMagic 7 software.

According to its blog, the company has set up a special website that includes training videos and more.

RootsMagic has also created "Magic Guides" on a variety of topics like importing data from Family Tree Maker 2008 and later, importing data from Family Tree Maker 2006 and older as well as media import from Family Tree Maker.

RootsMagic Essentials is promoted as containing many of the core features of the pay version. The RootsMagic 7 product page gives an overview of the pay versions features and includes a link to new features as well.

Reviews of RootsMagic can be found at Family Tree Magazine, Genealogy GemsThe Legal Genealogist, as well as other places.

RootsMagic was the first company to announce it is working on updating its software to add the Ancestry Sync, search and download features when makes its planned website update.

MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder 8.0
Family Tree Builder 7.0
Family Tree Builder (FTB) is the free genealogy database program of the website. Its latest version 8 supports up to hundreds of thousands individuals. A few features from version 7 are temporarily disabled while they are being worked on.

The company created a step by step guide to exporting a GEDCOM from Family Tree Maker and importing it into Family Tree Builder.

According to its overview, Family Tree Builder (FTB) supports over 40 languages; has a PC and Mac version; creates charts; has a maps feature; can be linked to a private family site (free and pay site); has SmartMatches Technology, Record Matching Technology and Instant Discoveries (when used with a MyHeritage data subscription); and more.

More details can be learned on version 8's initial announcement page. One thing the company does not mention is the program's sourcing and citation features which are really important if you are serious about your genealogy.

Family Historian
Family Historian 6
Calico Pie Ltd., the makers of Family Historian 6 hail from the United Kingdom.

Several webpages have been created with Family Tree Maker users in mind. There is a welcome page, user questions page,  as well as a guide to migrating from FTM to FH.

There is also a screenshot tour as well as a video tour of the program. Videos are also available on the software's YouTube channel.

Family Historian does offer a 30-day trail of the program after which a license to the program must be purchased ($46.50 USD) to continue using it. We are not sure if there are customer service issues with the time difference between the United States and United Kingdom.

Ancestral Quest 14
Incline Software are the makers of  Ancestral Quest 15 which has a Windows and Mac version of the program. The program has a variety of features and has been described by some as an alternative to the old, discontinued Personal Ancestral File (PAF) software. There are a variety of tutorials on the website also. Some tutorials are for older versions but the basics of them still apply to the current version.

The company has setup a special page for Family Tree Maker users moving to Ancestral Quest. There is also a video of how to bring your FTM file into Ancestral Quest on the software's YouTube channel.

There is also an Ancestral Quest Basics version that is free. It is fully functioning but does not contain all the "bells and whistles" of Ancestral Quest 15 which begins at $29.95 for the download version.

Heredis 2015
Heredis is the product of a European company and the program is available for Windows and Mac. We last highlighted Heredis 2015 when exploring alternative genealogy programs but it appears there is a new version Heredis 2017.

However, it appears the website for Heredis 2017 is only in French unlike the website for the 2015 version so the website is of little help to those who do not speak French.

Brother's Keeper
Brother's Keeper 7.
Brother's Keeper 7.2 is a stand alone genealogy program that is actually shareware. According to its website, the program works on a variety of windows operating systems, but there is no Mac version. Brother's Keeper has 18 foreign language versions as well as many features.

The program's reports capabilities have been described as highly customizable and the program easy to use. 

Because Brother's Keeper is shareware you can download a trial version and try it before you buy it for $45.00 with printed manual and CD or USB drive. The trial version is not limited by size or time but purchasing the program unlocks a lot more features.

Reviews of earlier versions can be found at Family Tree Magazine, and elsewhere.

MacFamilyTree 7
Synium, a company in Germany, is the maker of MacFamilyTree 8.1 which is available in 16 languages. The company does not make a Windows version of the software.

For version 8.1, which costs $59.99 in the Mac App Store,  is the largest update the company has released. These features and other have been detailed on its website and a variety of screen shots can seen at the website. On overview and a support tutorial videos are on the company's Youtube channel.

MacFamilyTree has also produced a migration guide to help users migrate from Family Tree Maker. There is also a demo version of the program so you can try the program out but it does not allow you to save or export your entries.

Reunion (for Mac only)
Reunion 11
Leister Pro. is the maker of Reunion 11 software for Mac. The company does not make a windows version of the program.

The program, which costs $99.00,  has many features/capabilities and website has many tutorial videos. Reunion has created a special page to walk users through the transition from Family Tree Maker.

There is a demo version that let's you play around with the program a little bit. You are limited to entering 50 individuals; import/export is locked; charts and slideshows can not be saved; and printed output contains a watermark. Purchasing a license unlocks the full features of the program.

Reviews for Reunion can be found online (some to an earlier version) like at Sassy Jane Genealogy and elsewhere.

At the website, Keith Riggles has written a multi-part series on genealogy software that provides another look at the software we have mentioned as well as some others. Riggles has taken a look at the tech aspect of dealing with GEDCOMs into and out of each program. GEDCOM is a specification that allows different genealogy software to share information, hopefully without loss of data. Scroll to the bottom of the article to see the complete list of all the articles in the series.

Lastly, with any company's genealogy software you investigate, do not be afraid to contact the company and ask your questions about their software and its capabilities.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Free Access to All Birth, Marriage, Death and Census Records on FindMyPast Websites January 12-15, 2017

FindMyPast is giving free access from Jan. 12 to 16 to all of its birth, marriage, death and census records.

During this free access time period, you will need to sign-in to either your subscription account or free account.

If you do not have a free account at FindMyPast already, simply create one. (A free account is not the same as a free trial subscription so do not click on the link to sign up for a free trial subscription.) The simplest way to create a free account is to do a search, click to view a result image and the website will ask you to sign into your account or create a free account.

There are special search pages set up for this free access time period for each of the Find My Past websites --'s search,'s free search,'s free search or's free search. You can access all the birth/marriage/death and census records regardless of country from any of the FindMyPast websites.

Have fun searching.

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

To Arms, To Arms! Get Ready for Action! Send Michigan-theme Postcards &/or Send Tweets ... Vote between Jan. 16-28 for Digitizing The Utica Sentinel #DigUtica

Upton House Postcard for #DigUtica
Okay Everyone, do you want to see a Macomb County newspaper digitized and online??? 

Yes? Then get your Twitter accounts ready and/or get your pen/stamps/Michigan-image postcards ready. The finalists for the 2017 Digital Michigan Newspaper Grant Program have been announced by the Clarke Historical Library on the campus of Central Michigan University.

The final five are:
  • The Utica Sentinel (Macomb County)  #DigUtica
  • The L'Anse Sentinel (Baraga County)
  • Shelby Independent/Shelby Enterprise/The Oceana Herald (Oceana County)
  • New Baltimore-New Haven Star/North Macomb News-Press (Macomb County)  #DigNewBaltimore
  • Leelanau Enterprise (Leelanau County)

The 2017 Digital Michigan Newspaper Grant Program

And to pick the winning newspaperthere can be only one to be the next digitized and available online you need to vote by using Twitter or sending postcards with a specific hashtag phrase for the newspaper of your choice.

Postcard for #DigUtica
Though there are two Macomb County newspapers in the final five, The Utica Sentinel as one of the oldest Macomb County newspapers and is extremely worthy to be chosen as the winning newspaper for 2017. The Sentinel covered news from a very large area of the county and neighboring counties -- not just the city of Utica! If awarded the 2017 grant, it would coincide well with the bicentennial of Utica in 2017; and in 2018 the 50th anniversary of the city of Sterling Heights. Just imagine the many, many discoveries that could be found with a few simple keystrokes. So much to learn! To vote for The Utica Sentinel use the hashtag phrase #DigUtica when voting.

So what do you have to do and when?

By Postcard (whether you are a non-tech or a techie)
Mail postcards between January 16 and January 28 (postmarked) for 10 votes per postcard.
  • Each postcard must have the hashtag phrase written/printed in the body of the postcard for the newspaper of your choice like   #DigUtica
  • Mail your postcards postmarked within the above dates to:
    Clarke Historical Library
    250 E. Preston St.
    Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859
  • Enter (send a postcard) as many times as you wish. 
  • If you use a pre-made postcard it must have a Michigan theme. Free Upton House postcards are available from the Sterling Heights Public Library and Mount Clemens Public Library.
  • Hand-drawn postcards (by an adult or child) must contain something depicting Michigan. The Sterling Heights Public Library will be mailing hand-drawn postcards in bulk. Just drop your hand-drawn postcards off at the library during its Postcard Party. (See below.)

By Twitter
Tweet between January 23 and January 28 for 1 vote per tweet.
  • To cast your vote tweet the hashtag code for the newspaper of your choice like  #DigUtica
  • Enter (Tweet) as many times are you wish.

By Twitter
Tweet on January 26 to vote for your favorite hand-drawn postcards
  • Your tweet vote determines 1st Place and 500 votes/2nd Place and 250 votes for the Best Refrigerator Art (youth submission) and Most Artistic (adult submission)
  • Check the Clarke Historical Library's website for more details on how voting will actually work. When we learn, we will try to relay the information too.
  • Enter (Tweet) as many times are you wish.

The Sterling Heights Public Library is holding a Postcard Party on Saturday, January 14, from 10 a.m. to Noon, for participants to draw postcards, eat snacks and support The Utica Sentinel in the grant competition.

So when you stop by the MCGG Open House tomorrow, pick up some Upton House postcards to mail and vote (during the stated time frame above) for The Utica Sentinel as the 2017 Digital Michigan Newspaper Grant Program.

See other Michigan Digitized Newspapers at the Digital Michigan Newspaper Portal.


See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

This Friday is our MCGG Open House at Mount Clemens Public Library ... Join Us!

This Friday, January 13, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. the Macomb County Genealogy Group (MCGG) will hold a Genealogy Open House in the Local History and Genealogy Room of the Mount Clemens Public Library. 

Come learn about this great collection. Take a tour upstairs and down. Watch demonstrations on how to use the scanning equipment. Learn tips for using the local database computer. Get help with your research and socialize with other family historians/genealogists too. If you have a laptop feel free to bring it to use the library's in-house resources and pick up some tips and tricks.

Please note the library is closed to the general public that Friday. There will be someone at the door between 12:30 and 1:30 to allow MCGG Open House attendees admittance.

MCGG members and anyone who is curious about researching their family tree are welcome to attend. 

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library! LE

Monday, January 9, 2017

Wednesday's Let's Talk...Genealogy topic is Where Do I Go From Here?

Just a Reminder:
This Wednesday, January 11, at 7 p.m. in the Genealogy/Local History Room of the Mount Clemens Public Library is MCGG's Let's Talk...Genealogy meeting. We kick off the new year (2017) with the discussion topic of the night ... Where Do I Go From Here? 

Bring your research questions, brick walls, or new finds to share with the group. We'll give everyone a turn. 

New attendees are always welcome.

See you soon at the Mt. Clemens Public Library!